New Year’s celebrations swept around the world as clocks struck midnight ushering in 2014.
Argentinians stuck out their right foot and took a step, literally putting the right foot forward into the new year. Some Irish banged their walls and doors with bread to banish the bad spirits of the old year.
A massive fireworks display in Dubai broke a world record with its size, reported the Gulf News; it used 500,000 fireworks. Ukrainians sought a world record for the most people singing the national anthem at once.
Traditions for greeting the new year are as varied as the peoples of the world.
Priests in Japan used wooden poles to strike large bells, sounding 108 gongs to mark the New Year. In a more modern celebration, “2014” lit up on Tokyo Tower.
Mexicans toasted in the new year with ponche con piquete, a spiked hot cider, and other traditional fare. One Mexican New Year tradition: eat 12 grapes as the countdown begins, one for each month of the year, and each one accompanied by a wish. Another tradition is to surround candles with food, such as lentils and corn; when the candles burn all the way down, the wax-food mixture is buried and the whole process is believed to bring good fortune.
Every New Year’s firecrackers ignite all over Berlin—sometimes several are set off within the space of a city block. The next day, streets are littered with the remnants.
At Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, hundreds of thousands gathered for what the organizers said was one of the biggest outdoor New Year’s parties in the world.
During the Soviet era, Christmas celebrations were forbidden, so New Year’s took on some of the importance and traditions associated with Christmas. Ded Moroz, a Santa-like figure, delivers presents, aided by his granddaughter, Snegourchka. Traditional favorites such as pickles and vodka, caviar, and pelmenyi (Siberian meat dumplings) abound.
This year’s festivities were tinged with mourning, however, and halted altogether in Volgograd following terrorist attacks that killed 31 people in Volgograd earlier this week.
Celebrations in the Philippines were also mixed with tragedy. The celebrations were hearty after somber weeks in the wake of a typhoon that killed thousands. As celebrations ramped up, more than 260 people had been injured by firecracker blasts and celebratory gunfire. Village chief Maria Rosario Bactol of Anibong community in Tacloban, the city worst hit by Typhoon Haiyan, said, “Many here are welcoming the new year after losing their mothers, fathers, siblings, and children so you can imagine how it feels.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.